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NEWS // 06.08.20

Considerations from the Texas School Safety Center on re-opening schools

Huckabee’s MORE Momentum series highlights how our educational partners are investing their time, energy and focus to keep the momentum going during this unprecedented “pause.” We will explore themes related to bonds, planning, design and safety and security, among other topics that impact Texas public education. Follow us @HuckabeeInc on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linked In, or complete the form below to get a first look as new content is released. 

We’ve broken out each question for MORE Momentum #3: Texas School Safety Center below. You can view the webinar in its entirety by clicking here.

Introduction

The Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) released the “Education Facilities COVID-19 Recovery / Re-opening Appendix,” that serves as an addendum to the Communicable Disease annex (as part of a school district’s Emergency Operations Plan). This new document focuses on COVID-19 and offers comprehensive guidance to school districts related to the re-opening of facilities and development of ongoing safety measures. Each section addresses the impact to facilities, transportation and people.

It’s important to note that each individual school district has an opportunity to develop a unique response to COVID-19, and the Appendix can be adapted to local needs and priorities. Every campus and every community is different, and the guidance offered by TxSSC is a starting point that will need to be vetted, modified and approved locally before becoming part of a school district’s approach to combatting the spread of COVID-19.

In this webinar, we talk through some of the strategies that are likely to have the greatest impact in mitigating COVID-19. We also speak with school district administrators and personnel to understand the challenges and questions that may arise while exploring these draft guidelines.

Our Guests: 

  • Kerri Ranney, VP of Educational Practice at Huckabee and member of the TxSSC Board
  • Jeff Caldwell, Associate Director of School Safety Readiness at TxSSC
  • Pat Fowler, Infectious Disease Control Consultant, Teel Consulting
  • Dr. Fred Brent, Superintendent, Georgetown ISD
  • Denisse Baldwin, Principal, Purl Elementary School, Georgetown ISD
  • LaToya Easter, Principal, East View High School, Georgetown ISD

Consideration: Masks

Wearing masks is a good example of a strategy that a school district could evaluate and modify based on the priorities of their community. Our guests talk through the value of wearing masks while also considering the challenges and impact of this option when working with a larger, and younger, population.

Considerations: General Facility

It is not likely that every campus can, or should, do everything recommended in TxSSC’s guiding document. It is imperative that each school district determine the feasibility of the recommendations related to their community. In this section, we talk through general facility considerations such as disinfecting efforts, the use of hand sanitizing stations, the use of plexiglass and guidance from the EPA.

Considerations: Main Entry Protocols

Entry and exit protocols will differ between elementary, middle and high schools, as well as urban, suburban or rural schools. Considerations for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 should complement, and not deter, gains school districts have made related to safety and security procedures. Whether considering the use of multiple entrances, staggered start times or other methods, school districts should attempt to find a balance between these varying needs.

Considerations: Classrooms

There are many ways for school districts to utilize the classroom and campus if social distancing is implemented. In this section, we explore guidance related to the use of classrooms and some of the considerations and questions that go hand-in-hand with creative utilization. For more information on this topic, email info@huckabee-inc.com to gain access to Huckabee’s TASA Summer Conference presentation: Campus Utilization—Adapting Space to Meet Multiple Needs. 

Considerations: Hallways

There are many methods for limiting crowding in hallways without removing key social / emotional aspects of school or impacting instructional time. In their COVID-19 Appendix, TxSSC offers guidance on numerous scenarios that can be considered by elementary, middle and high school campuses.

Considerations: Restrooms

Several things can be considered when addressing the spread of COVID-19 within restrooms, including the emphasis of good personal hygiene, education of hand washing and sanitizing protocols, and reduction of contact points needed for access.

Considerations: Cafeteria

Guidance from TxSSC within cafeteria and dining spaces focuses on keeping students and employees safe. Considerations for school districts include exploring where and how meals are served and the implications to staffing and process. TxSSC also offers the idea of using a local health department to analyze and provide recommendations for best practices.

Considerations: Extracurricular Activities

Community and campus spread may impact how school districts restructure and/or resume extracurricular activities.

Final Thoughts

With guidance from TxSSC and others, we hope school districts have a good idea for how to start the conversation and develop their own plan to return safely to school. If you would like to discuss the TxSSC document, how to develop your own priorities or explore campus utilization, please contact Huckabee at info@huckabee-inc.com.

For the full webinar, click below

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